Trees to be felled in Peterborough’s Bretton Woods due to fungal disease ash dieback

Thinning ash crowns with extensive dieback
Thinning ash crowns with extensive dieback
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Trees in Bretton Woods are to be felled in the coming weeks due to ash dieback.

Works in the woods will begin on Monday and last approximately two months.

Peterborough City Council said “enrichment planting” will see the felled trees replaced.

In total, 386 trees in the woodland, which is more than 200 years old, have been identified as needing tree work or to be removed on health and safety grounds.

There is no cure for ash dieback, meaning trees with the fungal disease will perish. If no action is taken it could cause a risk to the public.

Leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group Cllr Nick Sandford said: “I accept the need to remove ash trees if they are diseased and causing a danger to the public (i.e. near to footpaths) but I am not convinced that widespread coppicing in the wood is a good idea given that I have seen evidence that coppicing (cutting a tree back to the ground and allowing it to regrow) can make the coppice regrowth more vulnerable to ash dieback.

“Given the threat posed by climate change I would like to see the council adopt an extensive programme of new tree planting across the city to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Lib Dems nationally have recently called for 60 million trees to be planted each year across the country, involving the creation of 40,000 hectares of new woodland.”

A council spokesman said the management plan for the woods has been endorsed by the Wildlife Trust and the works consented by ​the Forestry Commission.

He added: “We have identified a number of ash trees in the woodland with the fungal disease ash dieback.

“While the ultimate impact is not clear, there is a possibility that most of the ash could, over time, be killed by the disease. The management ​proposals take into account this future disease threat, along with current identified safety issues, and prescribes essential changes that will ensure the integrity of the woodland are preserved and managed in a ecologically sound and sustainable manner.

“​Prior to work commencing we will notify nearby residents of the work, which we expect to take around two months to complete.”

Meanwhile, autumn tree works are being carried out by the council-run Aragon Direct Services.

Night time works have already commenced to minimise highway vegetation encroachment on a selection of dual carriageways around the city.

Work will then progress onto a number of shelterbelts throughout the city that require routine maintenance to keep them in good condition and to prevent them from becoming a problem to neighbouring properties or affecting the use of roads and paths.

A total of 500 trees have been ordered to be planted over the coming months within streets and opens spaces across the city.